There are people who couldn't deal with the idea of a modern woman living her life independent and traveling late around the city. So they raped her - beat her - in a rapid moving bus in the nation's capital and then threw her out on the street to die. And with that - they have raped India and left its dignity naked on the street. They were six of them against her - all of 23 years of age. Practically a baby with the world yet to be discovered. The way India and each Indian failed this girl is utterly reprehensible and marks a moment of deepest shame for the nation.
In few weeks that followed the incident, I watched the social dialogue focused on the lack of law and order and on the demands of death penalty for the accused. India's politicians (including women!) ever representative of the pathetic state of the Indian government, came out saying ridiculously sexist and insensitive comments. In some instances even equating every rape victim to be a prostitute.
A few days back - that poor girl took her last breaths and has now left a nation of questions - of confusion - of anger and hurt and of a very uncertain future. Like most of India's intractable problems - the issue of injustice against women is systemic, its root causes embedded deep in the Indian culture. And unfortunately like most times of tragedy, the dialogue has been about symptoms rather than the disease.
Yet another group of citizens have vociferously expressed despair. Statements of "nothing will ever change" have been written and heard in different hues all across social media and in discussions. Little do these people realize that accepting "Nothing will change" makes it a self fulfilling prophecy.
NO! This is not a time to despair and lose hope. This is a time - if there ever was one - to fight! This is a time for each Indian to sit alone in a room and delve deep into his soul. And to confront his weaknesses. If you are a man - think about each time you have been unfair or uncourteous to a woman - learn to accept it - take responsibility for it - truly apologize for it, and take steps to mend it.
If you are a woman - think about each time you have been ill-treated - or led to believe you are lesser than a man - but instead of fighting this lie you relented and kept quiet - think about each chance you have had to challenge this ridiculous notion and missed. This is not a time to despair. This is a time for Courage. Courage to face your flaws - Courage to do what is hard - Courage to stand up for those who can't for themselves.
The six wretched, depraved animals who robbed 'Amanat' of her dignity and forever stole her chance at a happy and successful life - do not deserve to live. But they do not deserve to die either - death in these circumstances is too merciful. These men should be sentenced not just to life-imprisonment - but a lifelong of solitary confinement. They should be kept under strictly regulated conditions - in a tall white room with smooth walls and bright lights - where there is nothing but the sound of their own voice - all day - all night - 24 hours each long day - 7 days each miserable week - until the end of their lives. Locked in a prison where nothing ever changes - no sound ever creeps in - no one offers death - or company or utters a single word - a prison with no windows - no features - utterly and absolutely nothing to spare them from the company of their thoughts and from the repent of their actions. They should be given proper food and nourishment just to make them live another day. They should be prevented from taking their own lives. They should be forever locked in a white box they try to escape - try and fail - try and fail all over again - every single day. May be - may be - just may be - that will begin to atone for the barbaric acts they have committed.
And yet what does that do to mend your soul ? What does that do to bring 'Amanat' back and what does it do to stop that burning, excruciating pain you are feeling in your heart .. nothing. And so we have to rise and pick ourselves up and pledge to do everything we can to ensure no woman in India is ever treated this way again. You may not succeed this week, this year or even in your lifetime - but when you get to the end, you should be able to hold your head high and say you fought with all you could.
If you want her death to mean something - you have to change the way you live and what you accept as normal - for the rest of your lives. If you are a man, call and talk to every significant woman in your life. And promise her to be better, kinder, and more courteous and to protect her against all dangers. If you want her death not to be in vain, then - learn to accept your mistakes and pledge never to repeat them again. If you are truly a son of India - then take heart - for you were born in the land of Shri Ram - of Marayada Purushottam (मर्यादा पुरुषोत्तम) himself - and in your blood you have the strength to be righteous. If you are truly a Man, then promise yourself to stand up for the women in your life - against anyone - anything - no matter what the outcome.
If you are a woman - then remind yourself each day - that no one - NO ONE can ever rob you of your dignity. Remind yourself that 'Amanat' died because she fought back - against all odds and no hope of escape - she stood up for what she believed in - and though she may have died - she died fighting. You swear with every red cell in your blood to fight injustice. Swear to stop at every instance you are wrongly treated as less than a man - and turn and fight this insidious lie. Take a pepper spray - take self defense lessons - carry a rock or carry a blade - but you make sure you can hurt any man who ever tries to take advantage of you. Swear to yourself to be fearless and to hit back at anyone who thinks you are vulnerable. If you ever get in a tough spot - take the name of 'Amanat' and drive your knee so far and so hard up his balls - that he no longer remains a man.
Stand India!! For this is the time for courage. This is the time to be brave!